December 12, 2019


Kansas City Education News

Inner-city students dancing in ‘The Nutcracker’ with help from KC ballet program

By Kelly Eckerman, KMBC 9 News
The Kansas City Ballet is performing “The Nutcracker” through Christmas Eve at the Kauffman Center. On the stage, you’ll see several young Kansas City dancers, discovered in the inner city, who are now learning to dance on scholarship. Khalil Hickmin is a ROAD Scholar with the program – Reach Out and Dance. He was discovered while participating in an outreach program to introduce the arts to children in urban schools. The Kansas City Ballet’s “Reach Out And Dance” program is now in 26 urban schools.

Parents say Blue Valley schools a disaster for dyslexic students. What’s the problem?

By KC Star Editorial Board

Cathy Denesia and Patrick Meraz moved to the Blue Valley School District hoping that its reputation as one of the top in the state of Kansas would translate into help for their three dyslexic kids.  Years later, even after the stay-at-home mom rejoined the full-time workforce, they’ve moved their kids to a private school and have thought about selling their house just to pay for the special education services they thought — and law seems to say — would be forthcoming from the public schools.  “We just told everybody, instead of Christmas gifts or birthday gifts, please help pay for school,” Denesia told The Star. “We’re not funding college education anymore because all of our resources are going to their school now. It has completely changed our lives to make it happen, and we’re at the point where we’ll sell our house if we have to, to make it happen because our kids have to learn how to read.”

Think giant tax break for Waddell & Reed is a lousy idea? Call KC Mayor Quinton Lucas

KC Star Editorial

For a brief stretch this year, Kansas Citians might have thought the era of big handouts to private developers was coming to an end.  That glimmer of hope could soon be extinguished. The City Council is moving closer to giving away tens of millions of dollars in incentives for yet another massive downtown office project and reopening the Bank of City Hall for good. On Wednesday, a council committee voted 3-1 to recommend approval of an incentive package for a $148 million office tower and parking garage at 1400 Baltimore Avenue.  The building will be occupied by Waddell & Reed, a private asset management firm. The proposal’s code name is Project Decoy, which should tell you something. Even for business-friendly Kansas City, the incentives are breathtaking. For 15 years, 75% of the project’s real property taxes would be abated, exceeding the city’s own guidelines. Half of the economic activity taxes that pay for police and fire protection would instead be returned to the project during those 15 years. All of this would be bad enough. But it comes on the heels of city approval for $78 million in state and local incentives for two other downtown office projects, one for relocating a USDA office and the other for — well, no one yet.

Missouri Education News

School closures loom in St. Louis as enrollment continues to drop

By Blythe Bernard, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — The number of students enrolled in St. Louis Public Schools has fallen below 20,000 for the first time, as district leaders prepare for another round of school closures this spring. The city school district now enrolls 19,801 full-time students in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to data released Thursday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Before 2011, St. Louis was the largest school district in the state. It is now fourth-largest, behind Springfield, Rockwood and North Kansas City. Any St. Louis school with fewer than 200 students — or about two dozen of the district’s 68 buildings — could be under consideration for closure this spring, according to a district spokeswoman.

National Education News

On The Front Lines Of Education: Q&A With Marc Morial

By Jim Cowen,  Forbes

Marc H. Morial, the president and CEO of the National Urban League, has worked for decades to improve educational opportunities for students of color and low-income students. This week marked the four-year anniversary of passage of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, and the time was right for a check in with him to see how well the law is working to fulfill its promise of an equitable education for every student. Here’s my recent exchange with Marc. As you can see from his comments, there are pockets of positive change happening around the country, but there’s still much more work to do to support our country’s low-performing schools.

Students Who Can Manage Their Emotions Do Better in School, Large Scale Study Finds

By Arianna Prothero, Education Week

Emotional intelligence is an important part of academic success—from kindergarten into college—according to a new study.  In particular, students who understand and can manage their emotions earn higher grades and do better on standardized tests. The findings help bolster the growing consensus among researchers that skills such as emotional intelligence are not just important for future workplace success, but also students’ academic success in the here and now. The results are also likely to help schools make the case that investing in teaching social-emotional skills will bring a payoff in improved student achievement.

Most Principals Have No Say in Choosing Police for Their Schools

By Denisa R. Superville, Education Week

Principals, you get to hire the teachers you want. You play a role in choosing the support staff assigned to your schools. But most of you are rarely involved in selecting the school resource officers—sworn law enforcement officials who often carry guns—who work in your buildings and regularly interact with your students and staff. That’s a big mistake, according to some experts, because cutting principals out of that crucial choice can lead to a very consequential mismatch from the get-go. “If you are not engaged as a school administrator in the selection of the school resource officers, you pretty much have to take what you get,” said Sheldon Greenberg, a former police officer who is now a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “You are shooting the odds that there’s going to be a good fit and a good long-term relationship, which is what we want.”